Most endangered historic places: Mississippi Heritage Trust’s list spotlights state’s threatened significant sites

Source: Mississippi Today

Mississippi Heritage Trust enters its 20th year as a historic preservation advocate with more than a few successes under its belt, and another list of 10 Most Endangered Historic Places in Mississippi — its 12th to date — that need attention, support and saving.

The list, announced Thursday at the Morris Ice Company in Jackson, includes structures that span the state, such as Mississippi’s Freedom Houses and towns’ historic water towers, to sites key to the communities’ cultural identity, such as the historic Lundy House (once a stagecoach stop and hotel) in Lexington and the juke joint Po Monkey’s in Bolivar County.

Mississippi Heritage Trust’s biannual list spotlights historically and culturally significant sites threatened by development, demolition or the slow creep of neglect. The nonprofit doesn’t swoop in to save places, but does help focus advocacy, drum up enthusiasm, build partnerships and guide communities on the historic preservation path.

Lolly Rash, Mississippi Heritage Trust executive director, counts some big successes over MHT’s two decades, such as the Lowry House in Jackson (now MHT headquarters), Cutrer Mansion in Clarksdale and the White House Hotel in Biloxi. “It doesn’t happen overnight,” Rash says. “Sometimes, these are long, hard-fought battles, and to see something that could have gone the other way, just become a tremendous victory is very rewarding for everyone involved.”

Sometimes, too, a place’s significance is not about a building’s architecture, but about the story it has to tell about the state’s history, cultural heritage and American history. Freedom Houses, for instance, were safe havens for those working on social justice issues during the civil rights era. Necessarily secretive to keep workers out of harm’s way, “As time goes by, that connection to place and story can be lost,” Rash says. The listing can encourage communities to identify those buildings, commemorate and celebrate them.


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